Hamish McLaren - Founder of McLaren & Associates Consulting

I never try to force anything; sometimes an idea comes to me like a bolt of lightning, but other times it is more like a leaf gently falling from the highest branch of a tall tree.

Over the course of the past few decades, few entrepreneurs have rivaled the overwhelming success achieved by Hamish McLaren, an entrepreneur who has achieved so much while pursuing endeavors across a diverse array of industries. As the founder of a number of wildly successful enterprises, Mr. McLaren has demonstrated a unique aptitude for entrepreneurship and has developed a transcendent, overarching business philosophy that has clearly served him quite well over the years.

Although Mr. McLaren remains involved in each of the ventures he created, his principal focus has shifted to his consulting work. It is through his consulting firm, McLaren & Associates Consulting, that Mr. McLaren is able to lend his unrivaled business expertise to aspiring entrepreneurs as they seek to achieve a measure of success approaching the level of Mr. McLaren’s own impressive entrepreneurial accomplishments.

Mr. McLaren, who holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business, was struck by entrepreneurial inspiration while still on campus in South Bend, Indiana. While Mr. McLaren founded several successful businesses during his time at Notre Dame, it wasn’t until he began his studies at the Wharton School that his career-long entrepreneurial philosophy first took shape. A truly passionate professional, Mr. McLaren is energized by the opportunity to work with so many creative and innovative entrepreneurs through McLaren & Associates Consulting.

Where did the idea for McLaren & Associates Consulting come from?

It seemed that every time I attended a social function, I wound up holding court with several fresh-faced entrepreneurs seeking advice about a recent endeavor they had undertaken. I enjoyed offering my insight and guidance pro bono, but I felt that there was much more that could be accomplished through a more traditional structure, so I founded McLaren & Associates.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I’m not much of an early riser, and I need some kind of physical activity to feel energized for the day ahead. On most days, I play a round of golf in the morning — often with several of my clients or business partners — and arrive at the office shortly after the lunch hour for meetings with current or prospective clients.

How do you bring ideas to life?

It has been my experience that extended contemplation brings out the best ideas, which is part of the reason I spend so many mornings on the golf course. During the course of a round, my clients and partners will discuss different ideas and strategies until we reach a consensus.

What’s one trend that excites you?

The entrepreneurs I have been working with lately are brimming with unique ideas and innovative concepts, so I am quite excited to see these ideas and concepts come to fruition.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I never try to force anything; sometimes an idea comes to me like a bolt of lightning, but other times it is more like a leaf gently falling from the highest branch of a tall tree.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

During the summers of my youth, I worked as a caddy at a prominent country club. I enjoyed the work the overwhelming majority of the time, but there was always the occasional member or guest who would blame me for their poor play. If I wasn’t to blame, then it was their equipment, the course conditions, or their playing partners — anyone or anything but themselves.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

There was a point in my career in which I attempted to manage far too many responsibilities, and I would have been much better off had I simplified my approach or delegated more responsibilities to my staff.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I like to engage in quiet, thoughtful contemplation while surrounded by nature. For me, the golf course is the perfect setting for this, but everyone is different and should try to find a space that is most ideal based on their unique needs.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

My clients know that I am fully invested in helping them succeed, and we go to great lengths to demonstrate our firm’s commitment to our clients. This information typically spreads rather quickly.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

While I was still an undergraduate, I rushed into a venture without thinking everything through in the way I should have. I was able to make changes on the fly, but it is hard to achieve the full potential of a business if you are constantly trying to find quick fixes to issues that could have been addressed long before they became problematic.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I had this idea many years ago but never pursued it: a last-minute tee time booking service that worked with all golf courses to ensure open tee times don’t go unfilled by offering reduced rates in exchange for a modest fee.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I have a client whose business is based out of Oregon, so I paid for a round of golf for a foursome out at Bandon Dunes, which is an absolutely stunning golf course.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

There is so much technology that has made our firm operate with incredible efficiency, and I love that our software and web services are so simple and user-friendly.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

For aspiring entrepreneurs, I often recommend “The Lean Startup,” by Eric Ries. It is full of practical guidance appropriate for our current entrepreneurial climate and its clear focus on the value of innovation.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

Eric Ries and Guy Kawasaki should be of interest to today’s up-and-coming entrepreneurs, and they have certainly influenced the way I think about entrepreneurship.


Hamish McLaren on Twitter: @HamishMcLaren5